Unintended pregnancy among the urban poor

Melanie Besculides, Fabienne Laraque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


This article seeks to determine the proportion of pregnancies that are unintended among poor women in New York City, compare the New York City rate to national data, and examine factors associated with unintended pregnancy in this population. Pregnancy testing data collected between June 1, 1998, and June 1, 2001, from field sites operated by the Office of Family Health, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene were analyzed. Pregnancy planning (intended vs. unintended) was examined by age group, race/ethnicity, marital status, frequency of contraceptive use, number of previous pregnancies, drug and alcohol use, and smoking. Odds ratios were calculated to determine if pregnancies were more likely to be unintended among women with certain characteristics. Logistic regression was used to examine independent risk factors for unintended pregnancy. Of the 20,518 women who had a pregnancy test during the study period, 9,406 (45.8%) were pregnant. Of the pregnancies, 82% were unintended. Marital status was the strongest predictor of unintended pregnancy, increasing the risk 2.5-fold for unmarried women. Adolescents and those who drank alcohol were also at increased risk of unintended pregnancy. The extremely high percentage of pregnancies that were unintended among the study population suggests that national unintended pregnancy rates are not representative of what occurs among low-income women in an urban setting. Unintended pregnancy interventions should be tailored for the urban poor and target unmarried, young women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-348
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Health and urban poor
  • Pregnancy planning
  • Unintended pregnancy


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